The “Who” Behind Our Missions

Blog by Alexis Drye, Director of The Grounds Bookstore & Cafe

You hear it all the time in The Grounds: “All proceeds support Meck’s ministries and missions’ partners, both locally and globally.” And we’re proud of that. It means that all of your purchases mean something; a lot, actually. But who exactly does it go to? For this blog, we’re going to introduce you to some of our local ministry partners. And while you can feel confident that you’re already supporting them through your purchases in The Grounds, as well as your participation in the Meck offering, we also offer opportunities for you to physically go and serve these partners. We’re listing some of our upcoming “Serve Days” in case you want to get involved.

Children’s Hope Alliance – For 125 years, this organization has been helping families and children in North Carolina to achieve hope and healing. Through services such as foster care, adoption, clinical assistance, training programs, therapeutic services and residential assistance, Children’s Hope Alliance meets families where they are in their struggles and provides an individual plan that will guide them to healing. At their Statesville location, Meck lends a hand every month with their Group Home program, cooking dinner for the children staying there. Not only do we get to give their room parents a break, but we also get to remind the children how loved they are and supported by the community.

NEXT SERVE DAY: Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 5:15 PM – 7:30 PM. Register HERE.

 

Second Harvest Food Bank – Serving people in 19 counties across the Carolinas, the Second Harvest Food Bank aims to end hunger in our community, especially among children. They partner with more than 650 agencies to distribute food to those in need, including shelters, soup kitchens, daycares and more.  They’re constantly collecting and distributing food, while also educating and advocating for those in need. Every month, Meck assists in the warehouse sorting and inspecting food.

NEXT SERVE DAY: Saturday, October 22, 2016, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM. Register HERE.

 

Crisis Assistance Ministry – Financial crises are just that: crises. They’re unplanned events like a lost job, a sudden medical diagnosis, an unexpected bill, a house fire. The Crisis Assistance Ministry provides assistance for people who find themselves in financial crisis, helping them to achieve self-sufficiency. One of their many programs is their Free Store of clothing, household goods, shoes and books available to their clients at no charge. Each month, a team from Meck volunteers at the Free Store, sorting and inspecting donations or prepping the Store for customers.

NEXT SERVE DAY: Saturday, November 12, 2016, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM. Register HERE.

 

Olde Knox Commons – Olde Knox Commons is a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center in Huntersville that strives to improve the quality of life for its patients while maintaining their dignity, self-worth and valued relationships. They pride themselves on their caring staff, compassion for their patients, and the lengths that they go to to makes sure that meeting the patients’ needs is the main focal point of its mission. The Meck Serve Day aims to bring joy to the elderly residing there. It’s a family-friendly serving opportunity that results in new friendships and lots of joy.

NEXT SERVE DAY: Saturday, November 05, 2016, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM. Register HERE.

 

Ranson Ridge Assisted Living and Memory Care – “We are special people who have a heart-felt love for helping seniors enjoy a happy and healthy lifestyle in a supportive environment focused on socialization, good food, good health, safety, and independence.” As quoted on their website, the Ranson Ridge Assisted Living and Memory Care facility works to treat their patients as family as they provide a variety of services, including assisted living accommodations, on-site physician care and rehabilitation, support groups for Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients, and more. Meck sends a team here every month to bring joy to the patients. Like the Serve Day at Olde Knox Commons, this is a family-friendly opportunity. In fact, the patients love seeing little ones!

NEXT SERVE DAY: Saturday, November 19, 2016, 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM. Register HERE.

 

Charlotte Rescue Mission – For more than 75 years, the Charlotte Rescue Mission has helped men and women in our community to achieve victory over their addictions. With their Christian-based recovery programs, they assist their patients to find long-term sobriety, establish stable employment and housing, and repair and build healthy relationships. Once every two months, Meck sends a team of people there to serve breakfast to the clients at the mission. If you’re a morning person, this is definitely the Serve Day for you!

NEXT SERVE DAY: Thursday, November 10, 2016, 5:30 AM – 7:30 AM. Register HERE.

 

Habitat for HumanityProbably the most internationally well-known partner of ours, Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit Christian ministry that works to create a world where every human being has a decent place to live. “Our mission is to put God’s love into action by bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope.” Meck partners with them here in Charlotte to build homes for those in need.

NEXT SERVE DAY: Saturday, November 19, 2016, 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM. Register HERE.

 

The Christian Mission of Mooresville/Lake Norman – This comprehensive organization serves nearly 5,000 families in the Mooresville/Lake Norman area who are hoping to escape the crippling effects of poverty. They help families gain an accurate understanding of their current situation and then establish client-specific plans to help them rise out of poverty. In their words, “We are available for our clients through their entire journey out of poverty to self-sufficiency.” Through programs such as emergency and transitional housing, care for the elderly and disabled, and an ongoing food pantry, The Christian Mission has seen countless families avoid and overcome poverty. Meck serves them through our biannual food drives as well as occasional Serve Days throughout the year.

 

A Child’s Place – When you think of the word “homeless”, who immediately comes to mind? For most of us, it’s not the face of a child, but the truth is that there are thousands of homeless children in Charlotte. A Child’s Place works to “erase the impact of homelessness on children and their education.” They partner with local schools to identify homeless children, and then work with the children and their families to provide a variety of assistance. By equipping the student with things like food, school supplies and other basic necessities, A Child’s Place can help a child feel prepared and confident in school. But the organization also goes deeper on a case-by-case basis for families in a state of long-term homelessness, addressing psychological difficulties, domestic violence, financial stability, employment opportunities, etc. Every year, Meck holds a backpack drive to collect school supplies and hygiene items for the homeless students in Charlotte.

As you can see, when we say that your purchases supports “missions”, we’re talking about human beings in our community and around the world who need your help. Who knew that a cup of coffee could be so powerful?

 

 

Who Should I Vote For?

Book Review: “Faith in the Voting Booth: Practical Wisdom for Voting Well”

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Reviewed by Sarah Wilson, The Grounds Bookstore & Cafe staff

With the November election approaching, our responsibility as American citizens has been tasked with choosing between two of the most distrusted and disliked candidates historically to date. Among all the articles being covered by multiple sources, each hitting different points, along with the constant release of new polls, we can be left in a whirlwind of things to sort out. Not to mention frustrating campaign ads. How should one vote? “Faith in the Voting Booth” by leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) Leith Anderson and Galen Carey really came at an opportune time for us all. (It’s important to know that the NAE doesn’t endorse candidates or align itself with a political party; it simply represents the evangelical Christians of our nation.)

This is the first election I’ll be casting my vote as a Christian. Since I value my relationship with Christ, I must consider His will and His desires for the next leader of our country. So, how do I determine what His will is? Knowing His Spirit definitely helps, as does reading Scripture (2 Tim. 3:15-16) and engaging in constant prayer (James 1:5). He’ll certainly do His part, but what am I responsible for?

The first step, according to “Faith in the Voting Booth”, is to research. And not just by reading credible articles or interviews with the candidates – which is a wise thing to do – but to go deeper. Anderson and Carey write, “Keep asking questions… and research the answers as if God is going to give you a quiz”. They also stress not to rely on a single source as there can be an abundance of false or heavily slanted information out there. In an attempt to better understand each candidate without bias, I have read “Hard Choices” by Hillary Clinton and “The Art of The Deal” by Donald Trump, each proving very insightful. Doing this allowed me to have quite a bit of my questions answered by the individuals themselves (even if the books were filtered by teams of editors).

I’ve been wondering if the uncertainty of a final decision will fade away. What Andersen and Carey recommend doing is to privately choose who to vote for. Keep this decision to yourself, as to not be further influenced by anyone other than Christ. Pray daily for God to confirm your decision or not. By allowing yourself the opportunity to live with your choice for at least a week, you will be able to settle into being convinced and comfortable, or unconvinced and uncomfortable with your selection. If by the end of your allotted time, you’re still unconvinced with your decision, start from the top. Do further research, pray, and seek counsel from those you turn to with any other decision or struggle you may have in life. Then dedicate another slot of time privately to prayer.

Their last step is to follow up. “We live out our Christian values regardless of who wins or loses. We share these values with others, including those who are not Christians.” We have to remember what we have in this country. There are people in this world who have absolutely no voice. The wonderful opportunity to vote according to our own beliefs or religious convictions and loyalties would be unheard of in other countries. This freedom is a reality for us and should in no way be dismissed or taken lightly.

What I really appreciated about this book was that it is free of any kind of bashing, and it manages to remain nonpartisan. Anderson and Carey didn’t deviate from Scripture or biblical emphasis, and they remained respectful and fair when discussing differences in beliefs and hot topics like abortion, taxes, foreign policy and marriage. While they didn’t get too in depth with these subjects, they did do a helpful job of offering a thorough synopsis accompanied with bullet points and Scripture.

“Faith in the Voting Booth” is worth reading if you want to figure out for yourself who to vote for rather than have someone else decide for you. Your vote is your own personal right and doesn’t belong to anyone else. This book breaks down how to decide for yourself for not only this election, but future ones as well.

Anderson, Leith, and Galen Cary. “Faith in the Voting Booth: Practical Wisdom for Voting Well.”

Gifts for Our Modern Day Superheroes

Blog by Alexis Drye, Director of The Grounds Bookstore & Cafe

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If you’ve been alive in the last year, you’ve probably seen little boys sporting t-shirts clad with their own superhero cape trailing behind. I’ve often heard my husband jokingly (but seriously) commenting that he wish it were sociably acceptable for adult men to wear shirts with capes like that. His would be Batman for sure. Even Cam Newton likes to pretend he has a Superman outfit underneath his jersey.(He is pretending, right?)

And if you’ve been in The Grounds at all in the last month, you’ve probably noticed our superhero-themed Father’s Day display. That’s because we see fathers as modern day superheroes. Just as Gotham City needs Batman and Earth needs Thor, our society needs dads; and not just any dads, but dads who love Jesus.

Superpowers like faith, self-control, patience, chivalry and kindness do much more in a child’s world than the gift of super strength, flight or the ability to see through walls.

So this year, let’s consider the ways in which we can be sidekicks to our superhero men, supporting them as they light the way for their children in an increasingly dark culture.

The Gift of Prayer

This may seem cliche, but it’s true. Our dads need prayer. They may not have superhuman strength, but God does. And He longs to display it in a father’s life. If you don’t know exactly what to to pray for, we (of course) have a few recommended resources:

“A Praying Life” – Paul Miller ; A book on prayer may not be the most obvious gift choice for Dad this year, but it could be the most life-changing gift he’s ever received for Father’s Day. And this is our #1 pick.

“The Power of a Praying Wife” – Stormie Omartian ; Wives, this book covers just about every way in which a wife can pray for her husband, including for his role as a father.

“The Power of a Praying Parent” – Stormie Omartian; Moms, why not get Dad a gift that you two can share in together as you discover the beauty of praying together for your children?

The Gift of Inspiration 

Men may not be inspired by sappy movies or Jane Austen novels, but they are spurred on by other men and by encouragement. We’ve got a few books that may just fan the flame inside them:

“7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness” – Eric Metaxas ; Metaxas hopes to redefine manhood and fatherhood through the example of seven incredible men in history.

“Fatherless” – James Dobson ; Though fiction, this book plays out the narrative of today’s cultural trends to look at the future role (or lack thereof) of fathers. What would our society be like without dads? If Dad ever wondered if he were that important, this book will remove that doubt.

The Gift of Childhood

This one may seem odd, but haven’t you noticed how Dad most seems to be in his element when he’s in earnest play with the kids? That’s because he is a kid himself in a lot of ways. Nurture the child within him with one of these:

“Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World” – Bob Goff ; Goff may be the founder of a huge non-profit organization, a leader in a Washington law firm, as well as the Honorary Consul of Uganda, but he lives life with the adventurous spirit of a child. Dad will be reminded that he can have fun in life, even when having to still pay bills and go to work.

“The Chronicles of Narnia” – C.S. Lewis ; Okay, this may seem like the biggest stretch in the list, but in truth, it shouldn’t be. Lewis wrote this series in an effort to explain the gospel to his children, and it has since become one of the most famous youth series of all time. Let Dad view the gospel story through the lens of a child, or let the book give him ideas as to how he might want to leave a legacy of faith among his children.

The Gift of Caffeine 

Because being a parent is tiring. Enough said. We sell our coffee for $12/lb, and we’ll even grind it for you to save you an additional step.

Happy Father’s Day.

 

Book Review: Understanding the “Problem of Pain”

Blog by Aric Renzo, volunteer Groundskeeper in The Grounds Bookstore and Cafe

The “Problem of Pain” by C.S. Lewis is considered by many to be one of the best works in Christian apologetics that addresses a fundamental question of human existence; that is, the problem of human pain and suffering in the context of human experience and in the light of God’s redemptive plan. After all, many skeptics and Christians alike may ask the question, “If God is a god of love, why is there so much suffering in the world?” 51O0807x-GL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Lewis looks at this question from various perspectives throughout the course of his essay. He begins by examining key attributes of God’s character: His divine omnipotence and His divine goodness. After crafting a careful backdrop of who God is, Lewis provides a comprehensive view of creation as God originally designed it prior to the fall. A thorough understanding of these introductory chapters is fundamental to his later detailed expositions on the human experience of suffering.

The majority of the book is dedicated to fleshing out various forms of pain. He breaks up the chapters into key sections: human wickedness, the fall of man, human pain, Hell, and animal pain. Essentially, Lewis believes (and rightfully so) that these issues of suffering are the most prevalent objections to the goodness of God that you are likely to encounter from unbelievers.

One in particular I found fascinating was the problem of animal suffering. I had not really given much thought to this question prior to reading this book, but after carefully reading Lewis’s thorough analysis, I can see how even the suffering of animals can fit into God’s plan. Even the utter brokenness of the world can be used by God to bring about His absolute goodness and provide us with comfort that He is in control of all things, even those aspects of life that appear to defy logic and reasoning.

Although the subject matter of the book seems rather bleak, Lewis ends his book on an uplifting and encouraging note. The final chapter, “Heaven”, provides a synopsis of God’s promise to us that this life replete with suffering, pain and sorrow is not the end, but merely one small aspect of reality as we experience it with our limited understanding. Rather, for humans, the far more magnificent aspect of God’s nature is His promise to us that He will set all things right by creating for us a perfect kingdom, full of God’s love and majesty, far beyond any human comprehension. This in fact will make the suffering of this life appear to be a mere shadow cast by the light of God’s presence dwelling among us in Heaven.

Overall, I found “The Problem of Pain” by C.S. Lewis to be an incredibly edifying read. It is a relatively quick read, written in such a way that it is quite easy to grasp the key concepts that Lewis illustrates. In its entirety, this book does a wonderful job of summarizing how pain and suffering is a necessary outcome of the fall of humanity, but how God can work through the darkest aspects of this life to bring about His ultimate goodness. Although the book was written in 1940, it is remarkably relevant to a modern reader, and it’s a wonderful addition to any Christian’s apologetics arsenal. I would also highly recommend this book for any unbeliever (atheist or agnostic) who struggles with these questions as barriers between themselves and God.

Lewis, C.S. “The Problem of Pain.”

Bringing History to Life with the Imagination Station

Blog by Alexis Drye, Director of The Grounds Bookstore & Cafe

Who hasn’t ever wanted to travel back in time? I know I have, especially to be an eye witness to the stories of the Bible I have read so many times. I’ve often meditated on how breathtaking it would be to watch the Red Sea part before my very eyes. Or to try to witness exactly how Jesus turned two fish and five pieces of bread into enough food to feed more than 5,000 people. Or to taste the wine that He himself created. Not to mentioned being on the mountain top with Moses when the glory of God passed overhead.

And if you’ve ever had similar desires to time travel, I can guarantee you that your children have as well. And with the help of the Imagination Station book series, they can. Well, at least in an imaginary way. This Focus on the Family children’s series, written by Marianne Hering and Paul McCusker, launched five years ago and is still going strong, enchanting children with its tales of time travel and adventure.

It all begins on a Monday afternoon in Whit’s End – the local soda shop for Beth and her cousin Patrick. Beth takes Patrick to meet Mr. Whittaker and his Imagination Station, a time-traveling machine. Within moments they’re seated inside, and the press of a red flashing button transports them to Greenland aboard a Viking ship. They have a mission to accomplish and a mysterious letter to figure out, but along the way they meet notorious Viking Erik the Red and his Christian son, Leif. Through a series of adventures, they see the difference that belief in Christ can make in the life of even a brute Viking.

In the next 16 books, Beth and Patrick travel to places like ancient Rome, Israel, Egypt and Ireland, always with a particular mission to accomplish and supplied by only a small bag of resources provided by Mr. Whittaker. They witness historical events like the battle between David and Goliath, the first Thanksgiving, and WWII, often barely escaping danger. In the most recent book, “In Fear of the Spear,” released earlier this year, they travel to South America to witness the work of missionary Jim Eliot and his team among the Auca tribe.

But the fun doesn’t stop there for your children. They can complete puzzles and games in the back of each book to reveal a secret code. By entering that code on the Imagination Station website, they unlock another audio adventure. There are also vocabulary lists, quizzes, and additional study information on the website that parents can utilize to really help their child unlock the books’ full educational potential.

The series is recommended for children ages 7 and older, but I think parents would enjoy reading them along with their children, together experiencing the wild adventures of going back into time to interact with a timeless God.

From Mothers to Mothers: Meck Moms Recommend Their Top Books on Parenting

Mother’s Day is less than a month away, and rather than settling for the same old flowers and chocolates, how about getting that special woman a book that has been a game-changer for other moms? We polled some of our Meck Staff Moms, asking for their favorite books written for moms, and here’s what they came up with:

(Ok, maybe don’t skimp out on the flowers and chocolate, but let one of these books be a special addition🙂 ) And of course, they’re all available in The Grounds.

33779“Parenting by the Book” – John Rosemond 

“Loved this book, and if I had to pick just one, this would be it for me.  ‘Biblical Wisdom for Raising Your Child’ was the subheading and I thought it totally captured that.

 

yhst-20550167876698_2167_4875052“Boundaries with Kids” – Henry Cloud and John Townsend

“This book taught me about lovingly disciplining my children so that they will have the character they need to be successful, Godly men. Cloud and Townsend help moms and dads make choices and develop a parenting approach that sees beyond the moment to the adults their children will become.”  

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51prZfsIhDL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_“Confident Parenting”  & “10 Building Blocks for a Solid Family” – Jim Burns
“These books were pivotal in our early years as Christ followers and parents, as we created and prayed through our vision and mission for our (then tiny) family. Jim Burns, Ph.D., is a renowned youth and family expert. With him, you will find honesty and encouragement; which every parent needs! These books offer practical, easy to apply strategies for anyone who wants to be intentional about the health and happiness of their own family. Hands down my favorite part of all Jim’s work is that he is the first to tell you – no family is perfect – even his own. You’ll love the personal stories and interviews with parents and experts, covering all kinds of topics – from helping children deal with stress to learning to PLAY together as a family. As he writes so beautifully in his books, ‘A family that shines with a love for God and for each other is a positive foundation for creating a warm, grace-filled home.”

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“Bringing Up Boys” & “Bringing Up Girls” – Dr. James Dobson

“These are my ‘come-back-to books’ that serve as STRONG anchors for my parenting. Whether I am struggling with an issue related to my preschoolers, elementary-aged children, or teenagers, this really serves as “the ultimate read” for raising our sons and daughters to be men and women SECURE in their identity in Christ. I keep these on my night stand and never tire of  picking them up, whether I have an afternoon to read or just a few moments. Dr. Dobson served as an associate clinical professor of pediatrics for 14 years, was on attending staff at a children’s hospital for 17 years and also earned his Ph.D. in the field of child development. Because of his incredible knowledge and experience, these books cover real and PRESENT issues in parenting, such as eating disorders, decisions about love, romance and sex, academic demands, life goals, the confusion about the role of men and women in our society, and qualities we should instill in our young males and females. It’s guaranteed not to disappoint, but to challenge, encourage and equip any parent!”

51R089Y1DML“Shepherding a Child’s Heart” – Ted Tripp

“This book changed my life…seriously.  I became not only a different mom, but a different person.  I even learned a lot about myself and my upbringing and why I am the way I am. I was a very insecure mom before reading this book.  I finally understood God’s vision for parenting.”

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“The Five Love Languages of Children” – Gary Chapman

“Huge eye opening experience for me. I learned how to identify with a son that was not wired up like me.”

Book Review: “Tactics”

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Blog by Sarah Wilson, The Grounds Bookstore & Cafe staff

Apologetics may sound a bit foreign to you. It sure did to me when I first came to Meck and saw the rows of books in the Apologetics & Evangelism section of its campus bookstore, The Grounds. This topic is actually something quite fascinating and engaging once you dive into it – not to mention, it’s something we are called to invest in biblically. The Apostle Peter put it this way in 1 Peter 3:15— “Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Simply put, that’s apologetics. We are to take our time to think things through so we can make a solid, persuasive defense for the faith we have in our relationship with God.

The approach in “Tactics – A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions” by Gregory Koukl isn’t about having all the answers the very first time; it’s about thinking clearly, engaging discussions effectively, and conducting yourself appropriately. In short, we need to focus on listening intently so we can guide each unique conversation with follow-up questions.

Although a professional Christian debater, Koukl makes starting an intelligent conversation about Christianity easy for even the most timid Christian. The first step: listen. This is an important first step to any authentic conversation because we need to fully understand both the point the other person is trying to make as well as knowing what questions might be asked to help you understand how they came to that conclusion.

“It requires as much careful listening as thoughtful response. You have to be alert and pay attention so you can adapt to new information.” (p.26)

By listening, you’ll gain a better understanding of what tactic would best help you guide the rest of the conversation. In his book, Koukl outlines several tactics.

One that really resonated with me was one he calls “Just The Facts Ma’am.” This is particularly useful when speaking with someone who has made a judgment against Christianity based on misconceptions or severe oversight. A good example is when someone tells you they don’t believe in God because “there are tons of contradictions in the Bible.” Just The Facts Ma’am is a simple two-step approach. Koukl asks “What is the precise claim?” We are to separate the precise point or points from the rhetoric. In this example, the person is claiming that God cannot be real if the Bible has errors, so asking, “Would you believe in God if the Bible did not contain errors?” would be a great response.  In his second step, we’re to ask ourselves, “Is the claim factually accurate?” Asking, “What kind of errors have you found in the Bible?” may be an appropriate followup. This helps us determine if what they claim is consistent and if their defense holds true. You can watch a discussion between Greg Koukl and Deepak Chopra here  for a taste.

When our knowledge is limited, or what we do know escapes us in the midst of a conversation, we must be diplomatic. He calls this the “Ambassador Model.” This is less of a confrontational approach and more of a friendly but curious approach. I naturally have always preferred this approach because I am curious by nature. What’s great about this approach, but often gets neglected, is that the person you’re talking to has to give a reason for their beliefs. As Christians, we are expected to know why we believe what we believe, but that is not limited to just us. If anyone holds a view or opinion on anything, they need to be ready to give reasons and explain why.

A simple statement such as, “I’ve tried many different religions, they’re just not for me” could be met with the Ambassador Model by asking, “What do you mean by that?” and later, “What specifically was unappealing to you in Christianity or Buddhism?” Here you’re not offering an aggressive statement out of an emotional reaction. Rather, you’re engaging the other person by showing that you’re interested in their thoughts and beliefs. You’re building a foundation to work with. Koukl stresses that you must pay close attention and listen very carefully for keywords in their responses to help lead to other questions.

At this point, reservations may be fluttering in your mind. What if the person you’re talking to gets mad or defensive? The answer isn’t easy: they very well may. If a person gets mad or defensive, there’s little you can do about it. Thankfully Koukl has an entire chapter dedicated to protective tactics and how to maintain control of a situation, sometimes even ending it.

If you’re thinking “This all sounds a little manipulative”, I get it. I had that same thought at first. But here’s the heart behind the book: This is not to manipulate or embarrass someone into submitting to your view or accuse them of a point they’re not making. I say this because more often than not, there is very little or no thought put into popular beliefs held. So when you put into play these tactics, you’ll find how easy it is to get to the real heart of the issue, simply by asking questions. While they may very well be willfully ignorant, it is not Christ-like to wound or one-up anyone. Remember the mission; remember Christ’s approach. We are to lead people to Him, not chase them away and prove them right for keeping their distance.

What sets this book apart from all the rest is simply the difference between tactic and strategy. Strategy involves the big picture, one’s positioning prior to an engagement. Because our beliefs as Christians hold up under severe scrutiny, we have a tremendous strategic advantage. But this element focuses on content. While extremely important, strategies often lack the first skill Koukl emphasizes: knowledge. Even the most skilled attorney, for example, needs more than just the facts to make his client’s case. He needs to know how to use that knowledge well, to persuade the jury to give thought to, and ultimately understand and agree with his case. Koukl offers his own tactics for us to adopt and develop for ourselves. Fortunately for us, unlike the attorney, we are a body of Christ. We can start by “placing a pebble in someone’s shoe” and count on others to do their part and take the message home.

Koukl, Gregory. “Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions.”

 

Easter Reading

Blog compiled by Grounds staff

So we all know that Easter is about more than eggs, bunnies and jelly beans. Many of us realize that it is a Christian holiday and has something to do with Jesus. You may even know that it is related to Jesus’ death and resurrection. But oh, there is so much more. In fact, the Apostle Paul claimed that the entire Christian faith is dependent on the validity of the claims we celebrate on Easter.

So why not make this year the year that you dig deep into Easter and celebrate it with new understanding. We’ve put together a mini list of resources to get you started, and of course they’re all available in The Grounds. Happy Reading!

“The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel:  A journalist and highly educated atheist, Strobel began to compile a case in an attempt to prove Jesus Christ a fraud. He deeply fact-checked the evidence on the historical findings, Jesus’s profile, and finally the circumstantial and medical evidence of the crucifixion and  resurrection. Through all of his extensive research, Strobel’s findings led him straight to the deeply personal, beautiful reality of Christ. (For young readers, this book is also offered in a Student Version.)

“Why Jesus? Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass Marketed Spirituality” by Ravi Zacharias: This book brings into focus the ever-changing popular views of spirituality. Zacharias removes the ideas held of Jesus by popular gurus and uncovers who the Savior of the world really is, and why it matters for all of us.

“The Jesus I Never Knew” by Philip Yancey:  A college professor, Yancy decided to focus on the relational, personal character of Jesus rather than the scholarly. Yancey explores questions like, Who was this man Jesus?  What was he like?  No one who meets Jesus ever stays the same, and this journey certainly changed Yancey for the better.

“A Search for the Spiritual” by James Emery White:  What makes the Bible so special? Why is there so much suffering? What does it mean to be a Christian? Who or what is God? These questions and more are answered with disarming honesty, allowing the reader to explore the basics of Christianity.

“What Do We Know About Jesus?” by James Emery White:  This booklet explains the integrity of the Bible, its historical accuracy, and the identity of Jesus.

Blog by Alexis Drye, Director of The Grounds Bookstore & Cafe

Thanks for checking out this blog! This is a continuation of a Q&A with Kelsey Hargadine, co-founder of ROWAN (Rural Orphans and Widows Aids Network). Check out Part 1 here.

 

Alexis: So how did you and Pastor Paul get started? How did you make his little document come to life?

Kelsey: “We realized right away that with so many needs on the ground it would be easy to want to do it all. We  didn’t want to become a Walmart and do everything “ok” – we wanted to focus on 4 key pillars and stick to them:

Each pillar has a spiritual emphasis:
  1.  Medical – We take care of all medical needs of our members, especially the HIV medication and treatment. We have two full-time nurses solely to help with our 300 members. Before we began ROWAN, these members had NO access to HIV medications, which could prolong their lives 40+ years! We make sure they get them with proper nutrition daily.10895088_802740536504652_811387509_n
  2. Education- We make sure each child goes all the way to a vocational training or college level and obtains a job before they graduate our program. As long as they obey our policies, they have a chance to become fully self-reliant, no matter what their age or setbacks!  We also have free literacy courses, business courses, HIV training and Savings groups for our widows and older students! All have opportunities for learning! Every Saturday our children come together for Bible study, Health checks, games and meals. That is their highlight of their week!
  3. Micro- enterprise: This is where we really emphasize the vocational training, have demonstration gardens to teach, and conduct business courses and Savings groups. Our dream is to build a vocational school to teach many new business skills!
  4. Urgent needs: They always come up. We want to be there to help the families if they suffer loss and need help with the service, or emergency hospital visits, rebuilding homes and roofs, well-digging etc.
We do our very best to keep to these pillars….as you can imagine it is hard but we have to say “no” to some things in order to say “yes” to making an impact in these areas. We have a sponsorship program which helps us be more effective in all of these areas!
Alexis: So when you say “we” – how many people are involved with ROWAN?
Kelsey: In Uganda, Pastor Paul started out with a small team of local church volunteers, and that is what they did the first 4 years- volunteer. We didn’t start paying them until 11849958_987551151267593_1741278225_nlater, and we just started calling them staff about 4 years ago. They are so pure-hearted, and now they are just as much invested as Pastor Paul! Today we have 15 local staff in Uganda.
On the USA side, I started with just one volunteer from my home church named Elaina. She did all the administrative work while I continued to be the spokesperson. She put in full-time hours for this ministry to get it off the ground! Today we have 5 people working with us full time, part time or as interns.
Alexis: What a team! Now tell us, how do the ROWAN beads fit into all of this?
Kelsey: Good question! Back in 2005 the paper bead jewelry in Uganda was brand new and we 11910273_947416935318475_1751906001_nbegan by having our widows learn how to make the basic paper beads. They were a huge hit during the holidays and the women loved making them! So we paid them per bead and it was a great way for the gals to come together and have community during the week. By 2014 the market was saturated with the basic paper bead necklace look in the USA. However the women loved making them! So we decided to either make them very unique or move onto other projects. So that is when we partnered with a jewelry designer for the new styles and found a niche in the market! We use the beads as a way to tell their story- but it isn’t our largest income generator. These same women also grow passion fruit in Uganda, raise goats and have sewing projects! We want them to learn many trades to take care of their families locally.
It is a beautiful thing to wear a piece of jewelry that was hand crafted by one of our widows thousands of miles away- it’s a wonderful story and we love partnering with people like you to help us spread the word!
Alexis: Well Kelsey, thank you so much for taking the time to answer some of our questions. If our guests wanted to get more involved with ROWAN, what’s the best way for them to do that?

Kelsey: They can email me directly at this email address (kelsey@loverowan.com), visit the site to learn more (loverowan.com) and join our newsletter!

We hope this has given you a snapshot of the life-changing and life-empowering work ROWAN is doing for widows and orphans in Uganda and how you can be a part of it by purchasing their products in The Grounds.

Meet ROWAN, Part 2

Meet ROWAN, Part 1

Blog by Alexis Drye, Director of The Grounds Bookstore & Cafe

Lets-Make-Cents

If you visit the North Charlotte location of The Grounds, you won’t notice the fairly ordinary table we have in the front. Instead, your eyes will immediately fixate on the beautiful jewelry that adorns it. Handmade bracelets, necklaces and earrings bursting with so much color that they seem to be singing. You see, this jewelry is far from ordinary. In fact, each bead was carefully and skilfully prepared by a humble woman in Mawanga, Uganda. And get this – they’re all make from recycled strips of paper.

So how did we come to acquire them? Meet the non-profit organization, ROWAN, the Rural Orphans and Widows Aids Network. ROWAN serves orphans and widows in Uganda affected by HIV or AIDS by loving and empowering them through education, business training, spiritual development, and more. We began our partnership with them three years ago and never looked back. And now we want you to get to know them better, too.

Co-founder Kelsey Hargadine agreed to engage in a Q&A with me to give us a better idea of the ins and outs of ROWAN. So let’s get started, shall we?

So Kelsey, let’s start at the beginning – how ROWAN got started – because based on your story on the ROWAN website it seems as if this wasn’t something you had originally planned to do. Can you tell us more about how ROWAN came to be and how you got involved? 

Kelsey: Yes of course!
When I went to Uganda in 2002, I wanted to go for a full summer- to fully immerse myself as much as possible. At that time it was difficult to find an organization that would send a college student longer than 2 weeks! But the Lord led me to Africa Inland Mission and they trained and equipped me to go for 6 weeks with 3 other gals from across the globe.
They dropped us with a rural host family – the village pastor, Paul and his wife Edith. He spoke basic English and lived right in the midst of this impoverished community that he was serving. The beautiful thing was, this village called Mawanga had never had international visitors stay longer than an afternoon, and we were there for 6 weeks! So it was new for this beautiful family to take on a team and yet they hosted us with such love and acceptance. At 19 I knew I was encountering the love of Jesus in such a powerful way. Without internet, cell phones or any interaction with the outside world, I dove into the language, ministries and learnings of this people group.
I could write a novel about the things we did, the hilarious encounters, the God moments…but what struck me the most was the deep fatherly relationship I had built with Pastor Paul and his family. I learned about his heart for the orphans and widows in his region. I heard him get up at 4 am every morning and cry out to the Lord for his people. I watched him pull worms out of children’s feet and pray for the sick. He had nothing, but gave everything. He challenged me to live like Jesus and whether I ever saw him again or not, I was forever changed.
As we left, all four of us planted small trees in his front yard to remember us by. I knew I didn’t need a tree to remember this family. Who knew if I would ever return, but my heart remained.
Three years later I had graduated college with my degree in communications, and I found myself working for a non-profit recruiting and leading mission trips all across the globe! It was my dream, and yet every time I traveled I would come home with Mawanga on my mind and heart. God finally revealed to me: “Kelsey, you can’t do everything, but you can do something. Mawanga is your something.”
In 2005 I got the opportunity to go to Kenya and lead a team- and afterwards I was able to go visit my long lost friends in Mawanga, Uganda. When I arrived back on those red dirt roads, I felt like I was coming home. The welcoming, the dancing, the tears of joy was unexplainable. There was nothing I did…they just loved me for who I was and coming back to visit yet a second time. As I entered pastor Paul’s home …he sat me down under a tree, handed me a glass bottle coke and we began to share. He said, “Kelsey, remember all those trees you gals planted 3 years ago? Well unfortunately all the other girls’ trees died. But the full tree you are sitting under, is yours.”
I was in shock. As I look up to this fully grown tree- I look back at him and he hands me a bound document. The title is “ROWAN” with a vision, goals and objectives. The first paragraph read, “The founders Pastor Paul and Kelsey Young will help empower all widows and orphans from helplessness to hope.”
Ok. Birds eye view. Tall blonde girl from CA sitting under a tree with a village pastor dreaming about empowering his community to self-reliance. It was a tad surreal. It was so big and so overwhelming I just KNEW it had to be the Lord! The “yes” in my spirit was so loud and strong I just knew I was called to be Pastor Paul’s microphone in this world. This father figure who dedicates his life for others- who may never get a book written about him- may never receive an award for his sacrificial service to the poor- was my mentor and father. Of course the fears crept in shortly after that big YES. Fear of failure, fear of finances, fear that no one will listen to me back home, fear of letting these people down, but God’s peace was much stronger. I went back home and began telling every person I could about this community and the plight of AIDS and the war against disease. And the first five years, only very few heard me. It wasn’t until 2008 that my small home church in CA (that had never stepped foot outside of the country) sent 20 people with me to see what I was talking about. And that was the humble beginnings of ROWAN USA.

Check back soon for the continued interview!